This pasta looks the business doesn’t it? Well it tastes amazing too. In actual fact, it’s super quick and easy to make, and cheap as chips too. All you have to do really is cook the pasta and stir in everything else.
As this is a simple dish you’re relying on the lemon, basil, parmesan and black pepper to give it a bold kick of flavour, so be generous with each of them. Purple basil tastes the exact same as normal basil, so don’t despair if you can’t get your hands on it, this will turn out the exact same with the regular stuff. Whip this up for a fancy looking but super simple supper after work during the week to put a pep in your step!
Ingredients (serves 2):
2tbsp Grated Parmesan
Zest of 2 Lemons
Basil (purple if you can find it!)
Salt & Pepper
Boil the pasta in salted water according to the packet instructions. I take mine off a minute or two early so that it’s al dente. Reserve a little of the cooking water.
Roughly chop your basil and set aside. I use a good bit, about a handful.
Stir in the ricotta, parmesan, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Have a taste and adjust with more salt, pepper or cheese if needed. You may need to loosen it out with a little of the cooking water or even some olive oil for a silky finish.
Top with more grated parmesan and black pepper and an artistic sprig of basil! Enjoy.
Spotted Dog is a classic traditional Irish comfort food. It’s essentially a slightly sweetened Irish soda bread with raisins running through it, hence the name, Spotted Dog. My Grandad used always make white soda bread, he was great at making it, and never used any measurements. In our house, our soda breads are always brown, with the exception for this loaf which my Dad made once, donkey yonks ago.
My poor pops travelled all the way down to Ballymaloe to pick me up a copy of Darina Allen’s “Ballymaloe Cookery Course” cookbook, which is incredible by the way, it is the perfect tome which contains pretty much any and every classic recipe you could ever need. Anyway while browsing through the cake and bread sections (always my first port of call), I came across Darina’s Spotted Dog recipe and decided to give it a go for old times sake. I followed the recipe exactly with the exception of soaking my sultanas in whisky and orange juice the night before for a bit of extra juiciness.
This is so incredibly easy to make, and so satisfying. My favourite comfort foods come in bread form, hot from the oven and slathered with butter. This is delicious, really soft on the inside with a slight sweetness from the sugar and sultanas, but with a lovely crust on the outside. This is best with butter and jam, but apparently also very nice with cheese. It is also gorgeous toasted with butter when a day or two old.
450g plain white / cream flour
1 tsp bread soda
1 tsp salt
1 dessert spoon sugar
Splash Whisky (optional)
Splash Orange Juice (optional)
I soaked my sultanas in whisky and orange juice the night before which plumped them out nicely, and gave them a lovely juiciness. This is an optional step, but don’t worry the bread doesn’t taste of whisky, you can barely taste it in the sultanas, but it’s a nice subtle addition.
Sieve the flour and bread soda into a large mixing bowl and add the salt, sugar and fruit. Mix together by lifting the flour and fruit up in your hands and letting them fall back into the bowl through your fingers (this apparently adds more air, making the bread lighter).
Crack the egg into a measuring jug and then add the buttermilk until you reach 400ml (the egg is part of the liquid measurement), so this could be a little more or less than 350ml of buttermilk.
Make a well in the middle of the bowl of flour and pour in the liquids. Mix together using your fingers drawing the flour from the outside of the bowl into the centre until it’s fully combined (the key to a great soda bread is not to over mix the dough). Pop the dough out on to a floured surface, wash your hands and with flours fingers, roll lightly for a few seconds, just to tidy the edges together.
Put the round of dough onto a floured baking tray and pat lightly on top to even it out. Take a sharp knife and cut a deep cross on it, letting the cuts go over the edge. Prick each angle with a knife (according to Irish folklore this lets the fairies out… long story).
Pop into a hot oven preheated to 220C for 10 minutes, then decrease the heat to 200C and bake for a further 35 minutes or until cooked. It is cooked when if tapped on the base it sounds hollow.
Serve warm with lashings of butter and a blob of jam… Perfect.
A recent blog post got all of my colleagues and I in a bit of a state. Niall of Lovin’ Dublin put up a recipe for homemade sausage rolls. Within our team at work, we have a bit of a penchant for posh sausage rolls, and had such cravings for sausage rolls after reading it, that many of us did go out and buy some posh sausage rolls at the local deli to satisfy our cravings. To be honest, the whole ordeal left me in a bit of a dither. I had never thought of making homemade sausage rolls before. Could it really be as easy as Niall’s blog implied? Would mine be nice enough to warrant making them from scratch? Well after a few weeks of dreaming of these aforementioned sausage rolls, I decided to make a batch of my own. And oh my god, they were mighty.
I had a bit of an unfair advantage after taking a trip to The English Market before making them, and stocking up on beautiful O’Flynn’s Gourmet Sausages, which are just heavenly. Their stall has such an amazing collection of high pork content gourmet sausages, but in the end I went for their spicy Italian sausages. I had invited a few guests over for the sausage roll eating extravaganza, one of whom is a bit of an aficionado of all things spicy and sausagey. He seemed to love them, so that was a good sign. One of my aforementioned colleagues also gave them the nod of approval. In fact they were so good, that I was only give 90 seconds to take some hasty pictures before they were all gobbled down, crumbs and all.
These are just something you have to make, they are so tasty. You can mix in or out whatever spices you like. They were really good with country relish. I think raisins soaked in a little juice would be a nice addition (if you left out the basil and chilli). These would also be fantastic to make over Christmas if you have guests coming, just make them smaller and thinner to feed many mouths as little canapés.
6 jumbo gourmet sausages (about 80% pork content – I used Italian spicy sausages from O’Flynns Gourmet Sausages in Cork… Sure doesn’t all the best food come from there?!)
1 yellow onion diced
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 handful basil chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 deseeded chilli (optional)
1 tsp fennel seeds crushed into a powder
Salt & Pepper
1 sheet puff pastry defrosted
1 handful flour (for rolling out pastry)
1 beaten egg
Mixed seeds (optional)
Sweat down your chopped onion, garlic and chilli (if using chilli) in a frying pan on a medium – low heat in a little oil. You don’t want these to go golden or crispy, just nice and soft. When cooled, set aside in a bowl until cool. When cool, add the lemon zest, basil, fennel and a few cracks of black pepper and a pinch of salt.
Remove the skins from your sausages and pop into the bowl with the onions etc, break the sausages up with the back of a wooden spoon and stir all the mixture together.
Roll out the defrosted piece of pastry on a little flour into two rectangles, to only about the thickness of a coin. Take one of your rectangles of pastry pread your sausage meat along the length of one of the long edges of the pastry. The roll up the pastry tightly, and brush a little bit of beaten egg along the very last bit of pasty to seal it together. Do the same with the other rectangle of pastry. Cut the pastry into little sausage rolls of whatever size you like, seam side down.
Place the rolls on a lightly oiled baking tray and wash the tops of the sausage rolls with a little beaten egg, and sprinkle with the seeds if you are using them.
Pop into an oven preheated to 180C for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden and crispy. Best served with some tomato country relish.
This recipe came about as a result of a craving for brown soda scones and a bag of dried dillisk (dried Irish seasweed) in my press waiting to be used up! I had totally forgot about it until I recently read that John and Sally McKenna had released a book about cooking with seaweed (or sea vegetables as the more posh folk would say), and it reminded me that I had a bag to us up, so in it went to my last batch of brown soda scones. Seaweed of all different varieties adorn the Irish shores, and yet Irish people don’t eat it nearly as much as you would think despite it being such a nutritous food. However, seaweeds are becoming very fashionable again and I’m starting to sea a whole number of varieties on menus again. Seaweed has been used as a beauty treatment in Ireland for centuries, and many Irish cosmetic companies use it as their superstar ingredient, Voya being by far the best Irish luxury cosmetic company, harnessing seaweeds hydrating properties. So here’s to using what we have in plenty and finding fun and unusual ways of cooking and eating it.
I also have to mention Macroom Oats and Flours as I used them in this recipe, and I use their grains all the time. The Macroom mill is based in Cork and is run by a man called Donal Creedon. I haven’t met him, but he’s known in Cork as being a true artisan who has managed to make oats and flour a luxury artisan product. His oats are stoneground and lightly toasted and make the most delicious, luxurious porridge in the world. His wholemeal flour is ground in the same way and gives the most lovely slightly nutty texture to breads. I recommend seeking the products out, they’re available in most good independent delis and health shops around the country, but often times if they’re not you can just enquire at your local speciality store and they’re usually quite open to ordering unavailable products in.
These scones are savoury using the dillisk which has a lovely very slightly salty taste and beautiful texture, and a little parmasan cheese to give the scones a subtle kick. When they are fresh out of the oven the taste of the dilisk is stronger (the heat and moisture rehydrates the dried dillisk), however when cooled the taste is extremely subtle. However, these would be perfectly delicious without the dillisk or cheese, and the recipe can be used in exactly the same way and would be gorgeous topped with a little jam and cream.
Ingredients (makes 6-8):
225g self raising flour
180g coarse wholemeal flour
20g oats (if you don’t have any oats you can just use 20g wholemeal flour)
1 tsp bread soda
1 pinch salt
75g butter room temperature
2 tbsp grated Parmasen cheese (or any other cheese)
2 handfuls of dillisk (or other dried seaweed) chopped
2 tbsp mixed seeds to scatter on top (optional)
Preheat the oven to 220C and mix the flours, bread soda, salt, cheese and dillisk into a bowl.
Rub the butter into the flour mixture until combined in.
Mix together one of the eggs and the buttermilk and milk into the flour with your hand until the mixture is combined.
Turn out onto a floured surface. This is a loose, wet mix, so spoon some mixture out trying to keep height of about 2-3cm height. (If you prefer a more structured scone that is less loose, then use 100ml less buttermilk, then you should be able to turn out your dough and use a scone cutter). There is a beautiful moist softness to the recipe above though, so I recommend doing it my way.
Pop the scones into a tin on top of a greased piece of baking paper, you can use a little of the second beaten egg to wash the top of the scones and sprinkle the seeds on top.
Bake for about 10-15 minutes, they are done when they are golden on top.
Let cool completely on a wire wrack before serving.
Since starting to cook risotto a few months I have been descending down a slippery slope of carbohydrate overload, but some evenings when it’s cold and wet outside, this is just the only dish you want to eat when you’re rugged up on the couch.
This risotto recipe works really nicely are I think squash is so hearty and warming, and the chorizo flavour really packs a punch. I use Gubbeen chorizo whenever I can stock up at home and I highly recommend you to seek it out, their artisan smokehouse in West Cork produces the mosts flavoursome meats and they are quiet reasonably priced also. I usually stock up my fridge with a lot of their products in one go, as smoked products don’t go off for a long time. This dish is so colourful, comforting, delicious and is a quick and easy dinner idea that’s perfect for a nice night in.
Ingredients (Serves Two):
130g Arborio Rice
2 shallots finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1/2 glass white wine
1/2 litre good quality chicken stock (keep this simmering in a saucepan while you cook)
1 handful grated parmesan cheese
Chorizo chopped (about 2 thumb lengths of chorizo)
1 small butternut squash chopped (in equal sizes so it cooks evenly)
1 large knob of butter
Salt & Pepper
1. Put the chopped squash in a heavy bottomed pot with the knob of butter and a generous pinch of salt and pepper, put the lid on and let it cook away on a medium heat, stirring occasionally. (This will take about 30 mins or so).
2. Lightly sauté the chorizo for a minute or two. If any oil comes out of the chorizo when cooking then reserve a tablespoon or two in a side dish for later. Add a teaspoon of olive oil to the pot the chorizo is cooking in and add the garlic and shallots and sauté for two minutes. Add the rice and sauté for another minute or two.
3. Add the wine to the pot and stir until is has been absorbed. Then start adding the chicken stock, one ladle at a time. Don’t add in a new ladle of stock until the previous ladle has been absorbed. Stir continuously.
4. When the squash is cooked mash two thirds of it, and leave the remaining third in their chunks. Stir all the squash into the risotto once all the chicken stock has been absorbed and the risotto it ready to serve. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and serve.
5. If you had any reserved chorizo oil then this is nice drizzled on top of the risotto, alternatively served with a grating of Parmesan on top and a pinch of freshly cracked black pepper.
Sometimes when I have a quiet weekend coming up I get the notion to make a big batch of some kind of relish, chutney or jam and fill up all the empty jam jars in my press. This weekend I decided to make a batch of Sweet Apple Relish. The last batch of Tomato Relish I made was a hit with friends and family but I’m down to the end of my last jar, and thought that this time around I would make a batch of apple relish. I’m sure pretty much every other 24 year old was doing something really exciting last Saturday night, but alas, I was making relish. And what’s even worse? I did find it really exciting!
Relish is really, really easy to make. It’s cheap, takes minimal effort and really adds great flavour to your everyday sandwiches, quiches, fry ups, omelettes… pretty much anything that could do with a kick. I went to the Glasnevin Farmers this weekend and came across a lovely woman selling the most delicious fruit and vegetables. I decided to stock up on my ingredients from her and so I left weighed down with a significant amount of bags of apples and onions for my batch of relish, and other fruity treats for later in the week.
Irish apples are perfect for this as they’re sweet and slightly sour. My parent’s neighbour has an apple tree and every year the apples fall into our garden, so this summer when they start ripening and making their way into our garden again I will probably make another batch. As the bad weather this Spring means that the Irish apples haven’t started ripening yet, I would buy ripe red apples rather than green, and I would go for the sweet ones that are packed with sweet juicy taste and a little bit of sour. Apples like coxes work, avoid crispy, watery, flavourless apples like Fuji etc.
1.5kg of red apples
2 large brown onions
300ml Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper.
1. Chop up your apples and onions into small chunks and throw into a very large heavy bottomed pot and add all other ingredients.
2. Stir together and bring to the boil for 10 minutes, then reduce to a simmer and stir for about an hour. When done let cool down and season to taste.
3. Transfer into sterilised jars. To sterilise jars just put clean jars in an oven heatedto 180C for 5 minutes. Simple!
This is my new favourite salad. As we’re coming in to the warmer (marginally warmer in Ireland) months, we tend to gravitate towards lighter meals, but salads don’t need to be the boring lettuce and tomato variety! This one is packed with flavour and texture, and can be eaten as a main with some crusty bread.
I made a home made mayonnaise laced with smoked paprika, roasted peppers and a little bit of chilli and it really gave tonnes of flavour to the roasted squash. I added roasted peppers to the salad itself also and used some of the fruity oil they come preserved in to dress the leaves. I also toasted a little pan of pumpkin seeds which added a little crunch.
This is a really good, tasty salad. I made it for a party recently and it went down a treat! You really must make your own mayonnaise though, there is no comparison between the home made kind and the jellyish shop bought kind, and it is surprisingly easy to make. You can make twice the amount you need and keep a little jar in the fridge for sandwiches. Two jobs done in one go!
1 large butternut squash
1 jar of roasted red peppers
1 bag of mixed salad leaves (I used rocket, baby spinach and watercress)
1 large handful of pumpkin seeds
salt and pepper
Smoked Paprika Mayo:
1 egg yolk
150ml to 200ml oil (you can use the oil from the jar of roasted peppers, nut oil or sunflower oil… avoid olive or other strong tasting oils)
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
3 roasted red peppers blended into a paste
1. Put your oven on 180C and allow to preheat. Peel and chop your squash into equal sizes to allow it to cook evenly. Throw into a roasting tin, add a little mild tasting oil and salt and pepper and allow to roast away (around 45 to 55 minutes)
2. For the mayo add the egg yolk to a bowl and whisk in the mustard. Very slowly and little bit by little bit whisk in the oil. This is so easy to make, but if you add all the oil at once it will never come together, so add the oil very slowly. When it all has been added in and you have a nice smooth texture, then whisk in the paprika, chilli and blended peppers. Add more paprika or chilli to taste.
3. Take your pumpkin seeds and dry fry them on pan for less then a minute. Make sure to stir them constantly as they burn very quickly. Once they start popping and become nice and crispy then set aside.
4. When the squash is cooked (and make sure it is soft all the way through, nothing worse than undercooked squash), stir in enough mayo to coat all the squash. Add the rest of the jar of the roasted red peppers, the salad leaves and most of the pumpkin seeds. Stir together and add more of the oil from the roasted red peppers to coat the salad leaves if needed. Sprinkle the remaining seeds on top and serve with crusty bread.